Mad Cat's Paul Tei Deconstructs Bad Vibes in So My Grandmother Died, Blah, Blah, Blah
In Mad Cat's So My Grandmother Died, Blah, Blah, Blah, Polly Chekhov, a comedy writer living in Hollywood, California, flies home to Hollywood, Florida, for her grandmother's funeral. She then gets a nasty case of writer's block when it comes time to write the eulogy. This becomes the kick-starter to a serious brouhaha between Polly and her two older sisters, all while dear ol' grandma lies in state.
The troupe's founder, actor Paul Tei -- who you might know as Barry the money launder on Burn Notice -- wrote So My Grandmother... just less than a year ago.
You can always count on Mad Cat to extract the marrow from any subject, poke it, prod it, and make you laugh your ass off while doing so. Tei's intention with So My Grandmother... is to deconstruct heavy emotions through his characters.
"I wanted to explore the impact that the Internet has on our lives," he says. "You just Google someone you don't know. Or IMDb them and, in a matter of minutes, you know the whole shebang about Ezra Pound. There's no more mystery. Arguments are solved in a matter of minutes. It's created a void in communication."
(I then Googled "Ezra Pound." Holy crap!)
This bit of revelation coupled with the passing of his grandmother, a serious case of writer's block, and dealing with what he calls "a horrible breakup," as well as his struggles to make it in Hollywood, inspired Tei to put it all into a story that could encapsulate his burden.
Melissa Almaguer stars as Polly in Paul Tei's So My Grandmother Died, Blah, Blah, Blah. Photo courtesy Mad Cat Theatre Co.
The play's protagonist, Polly, is the youngest of three sisters. She has a vivid imagination, carries emotional baggage, and is dealing with the sinister writer's block. Middle sister, Monica, who just had a baby, can read minds. Older sister, Annabella, is a modern dancer who can read souls. She also questions Polly's integrity as a lowly comedy writer living all the way in California, which produces a lot of disharmony among the three sisters.
We can only guess where the story goes from there, but we know it'll be funny, thought-provoking, and earnest. Because a talent like Tei is letting it all bare before his audience.
"I was exploring the need to overcome obstacles," he says when I ask him what he hopes audiences will take away from his play. "I hope people will walk away with a sense of hope. That they're not crazy when they find themselves thinking about death too much, or some song on the radio makes them cry because it reminds them of an ex-lover, or that sometimes they just wish they were in a musical. Or a contestant on The Price Is Right."
"Escapism is OK," he then says. "As long as you don't live there."
Mad Cat's So My Grandmother Died, Blah, Blah, Blah debuts this Friday at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse (404 NW 26th St., Miami). Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25 ($12 for students with ID). Call 866-811-4111 or visit madcattheatre.org.
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